Get stories and expert advice on all things related to college and parenting.
Help Your Student Adjust to College AcademicsSuzanne Shaffer
Your student’s academic advisor can recommend habits to cultivate that will lead to academic success. Based on 30 years of working with students and faculty members, I have my own checklist (see below). Here also is my unorthodox but honest parent-to-parent checklist for you.
This generation of college students sees their parents as primary sources of support well into their college years. This is a wonderful thing! Your opinions absolutely do matter and you still have significant influence.
Before the start of the fall term, and whenever you have a chance to check in throughout the year, let your students know what you expect of them academically and behaviorally. They should attend every single class (calculate tuition paid per class to make the point). Do you want to see their grades? Make that clear before the term starts if possible. See the Student Academic Checklist for more talking points.
They are. And the college environment is challenging. High academic and behavioral expectations coupled with newfound independence can create a perfect storm. It takes some students a while to learn to balance their studies and their social lives.
Your students need to do this themselves in order to learn the adult skill of self-advocacy. Faculty members like seeing and hearing from students outside of class, especially students who are struggling. Urge your students to visit their professors, but don’t call yourself. If they are sick or if there’s a family emergency, call someone on the Student Life staff — a dean, an academic advisor, a residence hall director. They can help.
CONVERSATION STARTERS: “Tell me about your favorite professor. What was the best discussion you had in class this week? What’s been the biggest surprise for you academically? Where’s the best place to study on campus?” Be prepared to guide, encourage, challenge — and listen.
To thrive academically, students need to choose coursework in which they can excel. As parents, it’s our job to set aside our agendas for their future and let them discover their own bliss. The choice of a major is theirs alone.
If things aren’t going well, if your students need to drop a course or take time off, help them figure out the process and then support their decision. Parents who would like to talk these things over can call the Academic Advising office.
GO TO CLASS – do not skip even one!
Sit in the front row and participate.
Do the homework and the reading.
Visit faculty members during their office hours.
MANAGE TIME WISELY
Keep a calendar of due dates (including preparatory steps like getting materials, reading assignments, writing drafts) and review it every day.
Don’t waste the hours between classes — head to the library.
Set limits on socializing; know when to leave the circle of friends and find a quiet place to study.
Write a weekly one-page summary of class discussions and readings (these become exam study guides).
Remember that weekends do not start on Thursday.
MASTER THE MATERIAL
Understand that, unlike high school, faculty members grade based on end product, not effort.
Join study groups — research shows they’re effective.
Think through your own responses to readings and class discussions, then speak aloud or write out what you’ve learned to be sure you have it.
In every class, work hard on your writing. It matters.
Choose a major you love!
When your college student starts their first semester, it’s not just a big deal for them. It’s a big deal for you, too. Get the First Semester Guide for College Parents now!